Fancy a city break? Then Shanghai is a good choice. The Chinese metropolis is a fascinating mixture of ancient and modern. Old tea-houses stand side-by-side with contemporary high-rise tower blocks. In one of the newest, a compact gas-powered CHP module supplied by MTU Onsite Energy provides heat, power and also cooling using chillers. And in many other places in Shanghai, MTU Onsite Energy emergency gensets make sure the lights never go out.
Now and again a loud horn sounds. A constant stream of freighters, barges, lighters and pleasure craft chugs along the Huangpu. The river running through China’s largest conurbation divides its center into the old and new quarters. On the old side is the famous waterfront area known since colonial times as ‘The Bund’ – the name is an Anglo-Indian term for a river embankment. Many of the bank and merchant house buildings erected here between 1900 and 1940 now accommodate Energy smart hotels, upmarket shops, restaurants and bars. The clock on the Customs House building – the only building never to have changed its original purpose – strikes every hour in the time-honored style. Opposite the promenade on the other side of the river, the buildings of new Shanghai reach skywards. This is the Pudong New Area – Pudong translating as ‘east of the river’. This district did not actually begin development until 1992. Today, the glittering glass towers of Lujiazui, its financial district, house Chinese and foreign banks, the Chinese stock exchange and several five-star hotels.
China’s highest building
The Bund promenade is a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike. The latter turn up either very early in the morning for their gymnastic session, or come back in the early evening for a jog or stroll. During the day, picture-takers dominate the promenade. Using a selfie-stick, a group of newly qualified graduates from a Shanghai university huddle together to take a final group photo in front of the city skyline. “We’ve just finished university, so who knows where we are all headed now,” one of them explains. In the background there is always the river and, on its far bank, the city’s three highest skyscrapers – the Jinmao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center, which is nicknamed ‘the bottle opener’ because of the rectangular opening at the
top of the structure, and the recently completed Shanghai Tower. Topping out at 632m and featuring a glass facade with a 120° corkscrew twist, the Shanghai Tower is China’s highest skyscraper and the third highest in the world. “The Shanghai Tower will officially open this summer and is sure to become another star attraction in the Pudong district” says Gua Qianjun, a freelance tour guide who takes visitors from all
over the world around Shanghai. Lujiazui – and the elevated viewpoints across the city it offers – always features in her guided tours. The highest observation point at present is 500 m up in the ‘bottle opener’ – on a clear day you can see the outer limits of the 25-million-strong metropolis and both airports. However from the Shanghai Tower, you will soon be able to look down even on that lofty perch.
Gas-powered CCHP system generates green energy
The Shanghai Tower is in the second row so to speak and not located directly on the waterfront. In 2013, a spokesperson from Gensler – the American firm of architects who designed it – called it the most environmentally-friendly ultra-high-rise building in the world. Its double-glazed facade reduces the need for cooling in the summer, while wind turbines near the top of the tower generate some of its energy. Geothermal
energy is also deployed for cooling and heating. Deep below the tower in a sound-absorbing enclosure, a gas-fuelled trigeneration module from MTU Onsite Energy waits patiently to be called upon. “Here we’re deploying the most sophisticated and environmentally-friendly technology – including smart energy management. That is why the Shanghai Tower has received LEED certification from the US,” says Xu Ming,
marketing director at Micropower, the engineering company that works with MTU. “The CHP plant fits in perfectly by saving energy and using eco-friendly natural gas.”
At the heart of the system is a 12-cylinder Series 4000 gas engine which delivers 1,165 kW for the building's internal power supply. In addition, the heat recovered from the engine cooling water is used for water-heating. Since it is a trigeneration plant, the module can produce more than just electrical power and heat. The exhaust gas is fed into an absorption chiller and so used to cool the building.
Xu explains that the enormous size of the tower with its 137 floors means that two energy centers are required – one each for the top and bottom halves. “The CHP module will generate 5 to 8% of the electrical power needed for the lower part of the tower and 10% of the energy for heating and cooling, depending on the time of year.” Xu also reports that the system will set a new trend in China. “This is just the beginning for CHP modules in China. In Shanghai there are only 50 installations of this kind so far – most of them relatively small.” According to Xu, MTU Onsite Energy is seen as the undisputed leader of this technological field, and leads the genset market as well.
Emergency gensets in major tower blocks
This is probably why there are also six MTU Onsite Energy emergency gensets in another room of the building's labyrinthine basement. “The diesel gensets produce 2,650 kW each and, if there is a power cut, come on stream within a few seconds to supply the tower with electrical power for the essential services,” explains Surf Qin of MTU China in Shanghai. That means lighting, fire safety and other emergency systems, as well as the data center, which must never be without power. The power supply to other high-rise buildings in the area is also protected using MTU Onsite Energy gensets. These include the Shanghai World Financial Center, the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank building, the offices of the Bayer factory and the nearby Science and Technology Museum. The East China Station of the CAAC Air Traffic Control Center and the Shanghai International Conference Hotel also house emergency gensets from MTU Onsite Energy.
Vibrant, modern, cosmopolitan
Shanghai worships modernity. The city is quite different from Beijing with its hallowed imperial architecture. The maritime metropolis has a relatively short history which arose as a result of resourceful traders and foreign intervention. In the 19th century, the British recognized the favorable location of the then fishing port at the mouth of the Yangtze – the mighty waterway that connected inland China with the Pacific and
gave merchants access to Chinese tea, silk and porcelain. China did not want to trade beyond its own borders but Britain forced it to open its doors in the Second Opium War. Foreigners flooded into the Yangtze estuary, setting up trading posts in Shanghai and establishing de facto extra-territorial concessions with architectural styles from Bauhaus to art deco that characterize the city to this day. In China's boom years from the 1980s onwards, various modern high-rise offices and apartments have sprung up across the city. The city elders want to expand their metropolitan area into a global
commercial and financial center. The Transrapid train to the international airport at Pudong bears witness to that ambition. One of the world’s biggest Disneyland parks also opened in Shanghai in June.
And that is the special fascination of Shanghai: Asian buzz and bustle, modern global trends, the juxtaposition of old and new, and the unbelievable dynamism of a city where people are constantly on the move. In the middle of a heavy summer
downpour, they simply get out their umbrellas or pocket rain capes, grab a quick snack in the shelter of a Chinese soup kitchen, and then jump back on their mopeds or hurry to the next underground station.
The oldest part of the city used to be the Chinese Quarter, which was surrounded by a city wall until it was demolished in 1911. This was a poor district where small traders, coolies and migrants gathered. The last 20 years have seen it replaced by a traditional-style bazaar. At its center is the Yu Yuan Garden. First built in1557 and redesigned many times over the centuries, the garden bears witness to the traditional
gardening culture, most displayed elsewhere in Suzhou, that features small pavilions, artificial rock outcrops, bamboo forests, flowers and banana trees (see inset). In the bazaar district, tourists from China and the rest of the world pick up cheap souvenirs and sample local snacks.
Everyday life in Asia
Meanwhile, typical Asian life is played out every day along the plane-tree-lined streets of the sometime French and other foreign concessions. From tiny shop fronts opening directly onto the street, bamboo mats, stationery, household goods, fabrics, pajamas and groceries are sold. In between, people snatch a portion of fried dumplings or swig a bowl of soup on their way to work. Mopeds and electric scooters weave in and
out of the cars and trucks.
Shanghai's history is visible in many places. In the more refined part of the French concession around Wukang Lu there are villas surrounded by sometimes overgrown gardens – usually only visible when the gates are opened. Plaques announce who once lived there – international envoys and merchants, high office-holders or local gangsters who achieved great wealth by controlling the city's gambling and opium rackets. The Jewish Museum in the Hongkou district bears witness to the wartime years when thousands of German Jews found refuge here from the National Socialists at home. In Xintiandi and Tianzifang, old stone-built terraced houses and alleys have been elegantly restored. Today Xintiandi is home to high-end boutiques such as Shanghai Tang as well as the building where the Chinese Communist
Party was founded.
In the evening, the old and the new are spectacularly illuminated along The Bund – best viewed perhaps from the roof terrace of the ‘M’ restaurant, or from the Bar Rouge. Very soon the Shanghai Tower in Pudong will also be lit up – courtesy of eco-friendly energy provided by the CCHP system.